5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending March 23

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is Facebook, which found itself in the middle of a firestorm of criticism following reports that Facebook user data was shared with a political consulting firm that used the information for targeting political ads.

Also making the list this week are Micro Focus, which reported lower revenue forecasts – and saw its CEO resign – due to problems in combining the company with Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business. Also on the list are travel site Orbitz, whose site suffered a security breach that exposed data on 880,000 credit cards; Huawei, for losing Best Buy as a route to market in the U.S. for its products; and IBM for a report that it discriminated against older workers in layoffs.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Facebook Under Fire For Sharing User Data With Political Consulting Firm

Social media giant Facebook found itself in the middle of a huge firestorm this week when published reports detailed how Cambridge Analytica, a London-based data analysis firm, harvested data from Facebook users, which was then used to target those users and their friends – about 50 million people altogether – with political advertisements in the 2016 U.S. election.

The fallout from the revelations included a $58 billion loss in the company's market capitalization between last Friday, March 16 (before the issue becamse known) and Thursday of this week. It also spurred a movement called "#DeleteFacebook" to encourage users to delete their Facebook accounts and quit the social media site. And some advertisers, including Commerzbank and Mozilla, have suspended advertising campaigns because of the issue, according to CNBC.

Fueling the firestorm was the failure of CEO Mark Zuckerberg to publicly address the problem for five days, finally issuing a statement on Wednesday in which he apologized for the apparent misuse of Facebook user data and promising to change the way the company shares data with third-party applications.

Micro Focus CEO Resigns Following Integration Woes, Lower Revenue Forecasts

It all seemed so promising back on Sept. 1 when U.K.-based Micro Focus merged with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s software business, an $8.8 billion combination that was touted as creating a new major player in the enterprise software market with a broad range of DevOps, hybrid IT management, security and big data analytics products.

But the task of combining the two entities into one company has proven more difficult than anticipated, and this week the company said it expects revenue for its fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2018, to decline between 6 percent and 9 percent. In January the company had predicted a revenue decline of between 2 percent and 4 percent for the year.

The price of Micro Focus shares plunged 47 percent Monday morning on the news.

It also wasn’t a good week for Micro Focus CEO Chris Hsu, who said this week that he was stepping down. He was named CEO of the original Micro Focus in January 2017 and was tasked with integrating the HPE software business following the merger.

Orbitz Hackers May Have Stolen Data On 880,000 Credit Cards

Expedia-owned Orbitz is the latest security breach victim after hackers broke into the travel booking service company’s site and accessed 880,000 credit card numbers that customers used to book travel through Orbitz and other companies serviced by Orbitz.

Along with the card numbers the attackers may have stolen names, dates of birth, phone numbers and addresses of customers who booked through Orbitz in 2016 and 2017, according to a Bloomberg Technology report.

Orbitz also provides back-end booking services for other companies, including American Express, which may also be impacted by the security breach.

The incident, which Orbitz disclosed this week, was discovered March 1. It involved a consumer booking system that is no longer used, according to the company.

Retailer Best Buy Cuts Ties With Huawei

Efforts by Huaweii Technologies to expand in the U.S. took another hit this week as consumer electronics retailer Best Buy decided to cut ties with the Chinese IT

manufacturer, according to a Reuters story. Best Buy's decision comes amid heightened government scrutiny of Chinese technology companies in the U.S.

Best Buy will stop selling Huawei's smartphones and other devices over the next few weeks, the Reuters story said.

Other major telecommunications service carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, have already reportedly backed away from deals to sell Huawei's smartphones.

IBM Hit With Report That It Targeted Older Workers For Layoffs

According to a report published this week by ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization, and Mother Jones magazine, IBM for years allegedly has attempted to push out employees older than 40 in favor of younger, lower-paid employees in apparent disregard for age discrimination laws.

While layoffs at IBM have been widespread since the company's employment numbers peaked in the 1980s, a highly disproportionate number of those layoffs have been older workers, according to the story. In the last five years alone the company has laid off more than 20,000 American employees age 40 and higher – about 60 percent of its total job cuts during those years.

"In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination," the story said. ProPublica based its report on internal IBM documents, legal filings and public records, as well as through a questionnaire completed by more than 1,000 former IBM employees.

"We are proud of our company and our employees' ability to reinvent themselves era after era, while always complying with the law. Our ability to do this is why we are the only tech company that has not only survived but thrived for more than 100 years," IBM was quoted as saying in response to the report.